K Dance’s limited-run ‘Beckett, Durang, Durang, Beckett’ created a surreal evening which still haunts me
What do you get when you mix Christopher Durang and Samuel Beckett with contemporary dance under the direction of Billy Christopher Maupin and Shirley Kagan with choreography by Kaye Weinstein Gary? A bizarre, surreal, strange, moving, funny, and deeply satisfying evening of theater.
K Dance presented Beckett, Durang, Durang, Beckett at Dogtown Dance Theatre for a limited weekend engagement as part of its Shorts 2015 with a mission of combining “short plays, different directors with skilled performers that act and dance” to create an “evening of diversity that challenges both the audience members and the performers.”
With Beckett, Durang, Durang, Beckett, mission is accomplished.
The evening gets off to a strong start with Jacqueline Jones as Durang’s Mrs. Sorken, a scatter-brained, overly-enthusiastic theatre-goer who introduces the evening’s events and gives a history of the etymology of the word drama.
“We go to the drama seeking the metaphorical Dramamine that will cure us of our nausea of life.”
Jones is Richmond’s premier comedic actress, and her cameo as Mrs. Sorken is delightful.
Mrs. Sorken was followed by Beckett’s Quad – a hypnotic, repetitive movement piece which seems to represent humanity’s disconnectedness. Watching the performers dressed in primary-colored robes tracing the patterns on the floor over and over again was was fascinating and eerie.
In Durang’s Medea (Kaye Weinstein Gary), Medea and her chorus of girls (Emily Poff, Jennifer Klotz and Maggie Roop) must decide whether an appropriate punishment for her philandering husband is to kill their children. Gary and girls are charmingly campy, and Carlen Kernish as the Deux ex Machina come to speak wisdom is one of the highlights of the evening.
The brief intermission was followed by the night’s strangest and creepiest moment. And judging by the giggles and comments from the audience during the performance, it was one of the evening’s most challenging moments as well.
In Beckett’s Rockaby, Gary portrays an elderly woman at the end of her life sitting in her chair rocking back and forth and slowly losing her mind. I found it strangely moving and disturbing. More than any other, this short has lingered in my imagination and my dreams.
For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls is Durang’s take on The Glass Menagerie. Amanda (Lisa Kotula) is a bitter southern belle who hates her life. Her son Lawrence (Carlen Kernish) is a lame, asthmatic, hypochondriac who collects cocktail swizzle sticks. Tom (Caleb Wade) would rather be anywhere than at home – and had a particular fondness for the movies (the unmentionable kind). When Tom brings home a co-worker Ginny (Maggie Roop) all pretense of southern hospitality goes out the window.
The evening ends with “Re-Cap” with the entire company performing snippets from the evening’s shorts.
I’m sorry that this was a limited engagement only. Beckett, Durang, Durang, Beckett had a little bit of something for everyone. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Julie Harthill Clayton is an out and proud bisexual with a passion for reading, writing . . . and NOT arithmetic. Her work has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Internet Review of Books, Curve Magazine, Lambda Literary and more. She is working on her first novel - Two Tickets to Freedom - a semi-autobiographical queer coming-of-age tale. A paralegal by day, Julie spends her free time knitting, writing, and reading anything she can get her hands on. She lives in Richmond with her partner, local artist David Turner, and their mischievous and loving hunting dog, Max.
Bottom Line – Unimpressive script not helped by inexperienced artists.January 23, 2017
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